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University Police officers to be honored with statewide heroism award Aug. 19

PLATTSBURGH - The State University of New York Police Chiefs Organization has honored three SUNY Plattsburgh University Police Officers for their acts of heroism.

Lt. Michael Kelley and officers Paula St. Clair and Eric Zielinski will be recognized for receiving the University-wide Heroism Award during a 2 p.m. ceremony, Thursday, Aug. 19, at the Olive Mason Flynt House (the president's residence) on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus.

"The Heroism Award is presented for acts of grave personal danger or highly creditable police achievement," said University Police Chief Arlene Sabo. "On the night of April 24, Lt. Kelley, Officer St. Clair and Officer Zielinski's actions in response to a structure fire at 86 Broad St. went above and beyond the call of duty."

That night, at 3 a.m., University Police received a call reporting an altercation in front of the Macdonough Residence Hall on campus. Arriving on the scene, they found the noise was coming from within the apartment building at 86 Broad St. where a fire had started.

Having notified the fire department, Kelly, St. Clair and Zielinski immediately began to evacuate the building. Zielinski evacuated two individuals who had re-entered the structure and were trying to put out the fire with small extinguishers. Then, Zielinski re-entered to look for a third person who was reported to still be in the apartment. After locating the individual who had been sleeping on the couch, Zielinski was able to rouse him and move him out of harm's way.

While Zielinski proceeded to attempt put out the fire, using a chemical fire extinguisher, St. Clair and Kelley checked the apartment for further occupants. St. Clair located a dog in a kennel and helped remove it to safety.

Zielinski and St. Clair then remained on the scene, assisting with crowd control, while the Plattsburgh City Fire Department put out the remainder of the fire.

Although the structure was saved, two students were displaced because of fire damage to their apartment. Kelley notified the director of residence life on campus, helping the students obtain temporary housing.

"We are proud to honor these three individuals for their acts of heroism, which may have saved the lives of the building residents and their pet," said SUNY Plattsburgh President John C. Ettling. "Even after the fire was over, Lt. Kelley worked to care for the displaced students, helping to find them housing."

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